There is a saying that when someone shows you who they are, believe them. The people who governed South Africa under the apartheid era never have and never will believe what they were doing is wrong. The only reason the system came to an end was that it didn’t make sense to continue it. The only sacrifice they had to make was giving up political power to a handful of people who they were certain wouldn’t rock the boat too much. They were able to keep and pass down to their families enough illegitimate money to make South Africa one of the world’s most unequal societies, even after nearly 3 decades of majority rule. Some sold and relocated to Australia, Europe or other African nations but besides that many are practically living the same lifestyle that they did back then with very minor exceptions.
One of the hardest pills for people to swallow is that people who grew up in that era will never see black people as being equal to them. They only realize that it’s not okay to publicly state those sorts of things but it doesn’t change how they actually feel. Racism is a disease that is rarely ever cured. It’s also a frequently misunderstood term. Many people equate racism to hatred of other races. While that is certainly part of racism it is completely possible for someone to be racist and have black friends, a spouse or other relationships. Racism is born out of a feeling of superiority that is reinforced on a daily basis in society. For example, if you go to practically any business environment in South Africa the upper-level management will be white and all of the lower or entry-level workers will be black. How can one see themselves as equal to a race of people when 99% of the time they are the ones in charge despite being the numerical minority?
The answer is they don’t. They have just learned as time goes on to be more discreet about their feelings and only express them in safe spaces. You cannot cure racism in a lifetime. It’s a multi-generational process that will only happen when the reality changes. As long as the majority of the land, corporations and other major entities are controlled by white people they will never see blacks as equal. They will also never see apartheid as being wrong because that is the system that gave them the advantage and privilege that they enjoy today.
It’s a harsh reality but this is the truth. Until we can have honest conversations about these sorts of topics, we’ll continue to have fake apologies with no positive outcome.